Lifting: Hobby or Obsession?


Hmmm… :thinking:

According to psychologist Dr. Perpetua Neo, these are the warning signs that your hobby has crossed over into obsessive behavior:

  1. It’s the first thing you do in the morning (or something related to it).

  2. You start to wear clothes relating to your hobby. (“You get the paraphernalia.”)

  3. You dream about your hobby. (“…or find it difficult to sleep because of thoughts about it.”)

  4. You move social events to make time.

  5. You stop brushing your teeth. (“Are you giving up the rest of your life and functioning for this? Do you find that you’re harming yourself or somebody else?”)

  6. You use your hobby as an escape. (“…relief from the real world.”)

Let’s discuss.


I know me spending my free time on an electronic forum to talk about training with other people puts me squarely in a demographic that would be considered “obsessed”. I’m sure sampling is going to be a LITTLE biased here, haha.



  1. This is the best time to do it because it’s my free time.
  2. Seems a bit generic as most hobbies that are physical have some sort of specific attire required.
  3. This isn’t normal?
  4. I don’t attend social events anyway…
  5. That’s a scary one
  6. Umm, everyone needs some escapism

I have fallen into the trap of big O’ rexia or obsessing over the wrong parts of training.

So, I have been obsessed for 19 years…

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I have a belief that a majority of adults with a good physique in the developed world could likely be diagnosed with an eating disorder or an obsession.

Sometimes this is problematic, sometimes not.

  1. This is the best time to do it because it’s my free time.
  2. Seems a bit generic as most hobbies that are physical have some sort of specific attire required.
  3. This isn’t normal?
  4. I don’t attend social events anyway…
  5. That’s a scary one
  6. Umm, everyone needs some escapism

Spot on. Although, I do shift activities around to accommodate lifting/exercise when I have the option

re: 5
I confess I have skipped brushing teeth before bc I worked too close to bed and was just lazy. Never for lifting though

Although the referenced article did mention working out, I guess the difference comes down to which hobbies we’re talking about: video games vs. lifting, for example. But lifting does have its dark side, or at least a dusky side.

We did a compilation article years ago about this:

Here’s my bit from that article:


It’s ironic, don’t you think? You adopt a training or diet plan to lose fat, build muscle, get strong, or extend your life, then things go sideways and your fitness plan begins to wreck your fitness.

For dedicated folks, it’s actually an easy trap to fall into. Some examples:

  1. A fat loss diet turns into borderline anorexia. This is often associated with an obsession with scale weight. The desired outcome gets twisted: the goal becomes a smaller number on the scale instead of the sexy look of a healthy reflection in the mirror.

  2. Your pursuit of abs leaves you looking like a malnourished meth addict. There’s even something called “exercise induced bulimia.” That’s where the person doesn’t purge by throwing up food, but instead tries to purge every calorie he or she eats through excess exercise, usually cardio. (Yeah, that ends badly.)

  3. The obsessive pursuit of PRs leaves you busted up and unable to do real-life things, like walking up stairs or getting out of the car without psyching up first. Strength is awesome, but true 1RM attempts are largely unnecessary outside of a competition.

  4. The pursuit of size leaves you fat or playing a reckless game with bodybuilding drugs.

  5. A love of running leaves you beat up and constantly hurt instead of feeling good.

  6. When a trendy diet starts doing you more harm than good. The key to this one is that you KNOW deep down it’s not working for you anymore, but the idea of it is so compelling, so “scientifically backed,” or is such an ego-inflating virtue signal that you can’t give it up.

The lesson here? Health first. Whenever health falls down to the number two or number three spot, or disappears altogether, your fitness plan, well, isn’t about fitness anymore.


not really for obsessive pursuit of PRs, but sometimes the training programme was brutal and there were def times when ppl asked if I was okay bc I stumbled around or had to pause going up the stairs bc legs were revolting

True. I’ve even heard fitness “experts” say that if you turn down the free donuts at work, you have an eating disorder. To which I say, “B!tch, you don’t know much about eating disorders.”


This brings up a really interesting point. We can speak of how “disordered eating” would mean a way of eating that falls outside of societal norms, since we are a social species and eating is one of those social activities we engage in.

…buuuuut…when you look at the average person, they are VERY metabolically sick, primarily because the way we eat (at least in the West) is a disordered way of eating in the first place. Manufactured cardboard carbs and frankenfoods and food labels that read like a graduate thesis and a whole generation that doesn’t know how to cook and orders everything from Uber Eats…is it really such a bad thing to stray from the norm here?


True, true. I have the “day after leg day strut” sometimes. Takes a few steps to get going after sitting too long. By “obsessive pursuit of PRs”, I mean busting yourself up so badly so you experience lifelong, life-altering pain. Maybe that’s part of the game for top powerlifters, but not for the guy just wanting to hit 405 on the bench when he’s clearly not built for the lift.


Nailed it. As I always say, “Being fat is an eating disorder.” Because clearly something is off if your body is in the process of incubating a disease state, even if you don’t have that disease or condition yet.

And people always think of anorexia or bulimia, but Binge Eating Disorder is the top one right now. I mean, it’s fun every once in a while, but still. :grinning:

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Food relationships are so fascinating, and I say that as someone that has struggled for quite a while with them. Eating as a social activity is worthwhile simply to observe how others eat.

Something fascinating I noticed the last time I was on a flight with a meal: people are conditioned to eat 100% of the food they are served. That “clean plate club” has been so damaging in that regard, but I’ll watch people just eat an entire sandwich, whole bag of chips, cookie, fruit snacks and beverage and just basically not stop until the food runs out. Same thing at restaurants: the meal is over because there is no more food.

Heck, that list posted clearly shows that eating is an obsession. We often do it first thing in the morning, at breakfast, people wear food company logos, I know people dream of eating, we’re constantly coordinate social events around the meal, and “comfort food” is blatant escapism…


Whoa. Good observations. Always a funny thing about eating: it’s necessary for life and also causes a lot of early deaths.

I get weird looks on flights when I turn down the crappy inflight snacks. “No? Are you sure? But, but… it’s free!”

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Hobby, in the morning at 5am 3x/week 20 minutes HIT style before work

run/walk the other 3 days in the afternoon after work…enjoy the runners high


Why think that an obsession is always a bad thing tho? I wouldn’t take for granted that to be obsessed is in every case something that a man should feel guilty about experiencing it cause through obsession is where all the good stuff is forged.

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I’ll start by saying there is a world of difference between weight training with a good diet trying to optimize body strength and composition, and competitive bodybuilding.

Competitive bodybuilding is a jealous bitch. “She” demands you totally commit your life to her. There are to be no flings or relationship missteps. Total devotion.

And every other moment of the day.

And there are times you hate that bitch, but don’t let “her” know.

As long as the social events don’t require eating junk or required alcohol consumption, and definitely don’t conflict with training, meals, or sleep.

You better not cause a visit to the dentist that could conflict with meals, training, or sleep.

The bitch becomes an obligation.

Of course you clean your plate. Every meal is planned. The plan is to eat what on the plan.

But I got sick (dermatomyositis), and the bitch dropped me in one hot second. Now my training is relaxed. No strict eating rules, just follow the guidelines. No required training regiment, just go when you can. If you miss a workout, it is what it is.


What happens in dreams about lifting? I can’t remember ever having one.

Do you dream of super strength and it’s awesome? Or do you try to deadlift and your arms fall off and it’s awful?

This was me when I was powerlifting, absent the drugs part. Looking back on it I’m especially amazed at how fat I let myself get in the pursuit of more weight on the bar.

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The problem is we live in a society that pushes the notion that everything is OK in moderation. You do anything beyond moderation (and who defines moderation anyway? The mediocre?) and you are obsessed. If you have higher standards and higher ambitions than “normal” then what you do to achieve those goals will appear to some as obsessive. In the current climate, taking your health seriously is seen as excessive, although that didn’t apply to wearing masks, why? Wearing masks is easy; eating right and exercising are hard. An overweight person will wear a mask but God forbid you suggest losing weight since obesity was the number one risk factor for dying from Covid. But I digress.

Where I work, women are the majority and at least half are overweight. Several are beyond that to being obese. Walking is a struggle for them. When I was teaching, most teachers looked unhealthy (and miserable). Someone who worked out and ate with less “obsessiveness” than most posters here, would seem like a fanatic compared to them. Where I work now, people will sometimes bring in donuts, cake, cookies, etc. If there is a meeting there will be junk available to eat. I get offered this junk but I always refuse it. They think I must have some superhuman powers to turn down junk food. They’ll say how they wish they could say no to it. It’s easy for me because I really don’t have a sweet tooth. I also have family members who have issues with diabetes so it could be that runs in the family.

The funny thing is, and maybe I’m being a jerk here, but the same way they can’t understand how I can turn down junk food, I can’t understand how they can look in the mirror and not turn it down. They know they are overweight and they know why and they are not happy about it. In short, I’d rather appear obsessed than be miserable about being overweight and feeling guilty about eating a donut the moment the dopamine rush subsides. The problem isn’t that I’m pissed about missing a squat workout but that they are pissed about being fat and do nothing about it.


I worked for the same company 41 years in 4 different locations. I never ate what I didn’t bring to work. My nickname was Tuna-man.